Fire broke out at the Seats, Inc. factory in Richland Center on Friday night, and firefighters were at the scene all night, clearing damaged materials from the building in frigid weather. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries.
A passerby reported the blaze at about 9:30 p.m. at the factory at Highway 14 and Sextonville Road. It started in a dumpster outside the building and spread, damaging about one-fourth of the large factory, said Richland Center Fire Chief Bob Bindl.
The dumpster contained sawdust and waste wood. When the fire broke out, it caught the overhang and then spread into the metal building, Bindl said. He said he’s not sure yet how the fire started, and there’s no damage estimate, but Bindl said damages will probably run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Four employees were cleaning up for the night when the fire started and were safely evacuated, Bindl said. The plant makes seats for riding lawn mowers and all-terrain vehicles.
About 75 volunteer firefighters from Richland Center, Lone Rock, Muscoda, Cazenovia, Viola and Spring Green helped with the effort, which was complicated by the frigid weather.
“We had a lot of problems with breathing apparatus because they were freezing up,” Bindl said.
He said one Richland Center firefighter suffered a mild concussion when he slipped on the ice and hit his head; another suffered from dehydration and smoke inhalation. Both were treated at Richland Center Hospital and released.
Bindl said firefighters were at the scene until 8:30 a.m. Saturday, emptying pallets of products from the damaged building.